HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The University of Southern Mississippi's president, Rodney Bennett, is pushing a new salary initiative that will give pay raises to some of the schools lowest paid employees.
Bennett held a media roundtable today to make the announcement. He said the raises will go to about 200 employees on the Hattiesburg and Gulf Coast campuses.
"Any USM employee will make at least $21,000," he said.
There's 194 staff members that make close to a minimum wage salary. Those jobs are mainly occupied by custodial workers.
"This will allow us to have more longevity with the employees we receive," he said. "
This will cost about $600,000 more to the university each year.
"The new hourly rate will be $10.10 an hour," said Bennett.
School officials are not sure how they will finance the increases.
"We will find the money," said Tom Estes, interim vice president of finance and administration.
The budget has not been set yet for next year.
"That's all a part of the balancing process as we put the budget together," said Estes.
Bennett said he knows there will be some controversy stirred since this does not affect teacher salaries.
"I need to focus on those lowest paid first," he said. "Unless you are one of the 194 people who are making $15,000, $16,000, $17,000, I'm not sure you know what its like."
He said does plan on creating other salary increases in the future.
"We are going to continue to work towards a rising tide to left everyone's boat," Bennett said.
The pay raises will go into effect July 1.